ESPNBullRiding.com caught up with world champion bull rider and Professional Bull Riders Ring of Honor recipient J.W. Hart to get his take on the recent matchups between 2008 Bucking Bull of the Year, Bones, and a couple of the hottest riders on the Built Ford Tough Series circuit — namely, 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi and current world number one J.B. Mauney.
How good were the matchups, and where do they fit in the litany of all time bull riding rivalries? The retired cowboy and current PBR color commentator offers his take below.
Freckles Brown vs. Tornado
Freckles Brown won the world championship of bull riding in 1962 at the National Finals Rodeo, but it was five years later at the NFR in Oklahoma City, Okla., when he truly cemented his status in the history books — and he wasn't even in title contention. On opening night of the finals, Brown rode Tornado, a bull thought to be unrideable and owned by legendary cowboy Jim Shoulders, in front of a full house of 9,000 in Oklahoma City's State Fair Arena. Tornado had gone unridden in 220 outs.
Hart: The biggest part of that matchup was Freckles' age. He was 46 years old when he got on Tornado, and for a bull that had been out 200 some-odd times and never been ridden, and a 46-year old man was asked to do it, you know, to belly up, and he done it? Well, that may be one of the biggest matchups of all time just due to the age of him.
Jim Sharp vs. Dillinger
In 2002 Jim Sharp, two-time PRCA World Champion and the first man to ride all 10 bulls in the NFR, took on the two-time world champion bull Dillinger in Fort Worth, Texas, at a sold-out Will Rogers Coliseum. Sharp walked away with an eight-second ride and $85,000 in his pocket.
Hart: I think he rode him for $85,000 in a shootout round in Fort Worth. Probably one of the rankest bulls of all time, and Jim, being on the back end of his career, made for some really good watching that night.
Owen Washburn vs. Hammer
It happened in Bossier City, La., in only eight seconds. At a PBR event in 2003, Owen Washburn became not only the first man to ride Hammer, a bull who had not been ridden in his more than two years on the BFTS circuit — he also became the second. In a Mossy Oak Shoot Out round, Washburn earned $90,000 and an event win.
Hart: The money that was up on that one was another one of those big money things, you know. The bull hadn't been ridden and the money on top of that, and then he rode him back to back nights. Pretty classic. Pretty classic.
Chris Shivers vs. Little Yellow Jacket
While Chris Shivers' battle with Little Yellow Jacket was a head-to-head matchup between two world champions, it also happened to include the single heftiest possible paycheck in bull riding history: $1 million for one ride. But Shivers couldn't hang on, getting bucked in less than two seconds by the three-time consecutive world champion bull (2002-04).
Hart: Well, that was an unprecedented matchup there, just looking at the money that was on the line. You're looking at a $1 million payoff and all you have to do is stay on. That's a whole different pressure that no bull rider in the world has ever felt except Chris Shivers. So, to say that was the biggest matchup or the most pressure on a ride in history is probably an understatement.
If I told you you had to make one free throw for $1 million — no matter how many you make in a row, that one for $1 million is going to be tough. He had him two or three other times before that and he canned him every other time he rode him. We've all had bulls that skunked us, and I guess you could say Little Yellow Jacket skunked Chris Shivers.
Lane Frost vs. Red Rock
The storied meetings between Lane Frost and Red Rock began in 1986 when Red Rock bucked Frost in the NFR, preventing Frost from being the first man to ride all 10 bulls in the Finals and also dashing his world title hopes. Red Rock was eventually retired from competition after the 1987 NFR (where Frost won his world championship without riding Red Rock) after 309 outs without an eight-second ride.
As part of a promotional deal during the 1988 PRCA season called "Challenge of the Champions," Frost and Red Rock met in a series of best-of-seven matchups. Red Rock jumped ahead with two early buck-offs, but on May 20, 1988 in Redding, Calif., Frost became the first man to tame the legendary bull. Frost ultimately won the head-to-head matchup 4 to 3, and had this to say about the ordeal:
"I was glad it was over," Frost said in retrospect. "I'd do it again, but I sure was glad it was over. Out there, in the arena after I got off, I thought, 'one of the greatest things in rodeo was over.' The one-on-one was something that everyone could understand."
Hart: It was a great matchup between two champions, and I guess the better man won in the end. Lane rode [Red Rock] four times, so it'd be hard to pick out of there which one was the best — you know, probably the first time because it was the first time — but they're all really great rides. [NEXT PAGE]
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